Safety Innovation Video Series: The evolution of safety training at CBRE


Safety Innovation Video Series: The evolution of safety training at CBRE

Posted on 25 March 2024

In this instalment of our Safety Innovation video series, we speak with Adam Wilkinson, QHSE Director for CBRE’s facilities management business in the UK.

We explore the evolution of safety training at CBRE, looking at what the training looked like previously, what it is now and the benefits it brings, the feedback received internally and externally, and how the training now caters for different learning styles.

What led to the evolution of safety training at CBRE?

Our business is growing rapidly. It’s changing, and as such, everything that supports that business needs to evolve and change with it. And we realised, actually that our QHSE training hadn't evolved, and certainly not at the pace that the business had. It was still very classroom focused. It was very traditional in its outset. So we wanted to make sure that it was still relevant and we set about actually reviewing that to see if it was relevant and if it wasn't what we needed to do about it.

What did you find when you started to review the existing training?

Well, our training was fine. It was very, very comprehensive, but actually it hadn't kept pace with the way that people learn, with the way that society wants to get information. So it was classroom focused. We were dragging people from all over the country into a classroom in head office in London for four hours. And they were more geared up to information that you'd find in a health and safety qualification, regulations and dates and things than they were on tangible actions that the frontline employees could take home and actually do things differently.

What does training look like now?

So training looks completely different now. What we've done is we've taken the awareness elements of it. We've taken out anything which doesn't actually lead to a tangible action on site and we've removed it. So there's no regulations, no dates, nothing like that, because the engineers just don't need it. And we've also taken the sort of arbitrary refresher dates and we've tailored the course really with an approach we call "Test me, Teach me” to answer these questions. If you know the content, there's no point relearning it. If you don't know the content, that's fine. We'll retrain you specifically on that. So it's extremely targeted in terms of the information and people learning what they need to at a time they need to, not just information for the sake of it.

What have been the benefits?

To be clear, the whole exercise was around the quality of training and de-risking the business. But actually we've realised a whole host of benefits. We've saved employees time travelling down from the north of England to go to London for a four hour training course and the money associated with that. We've saved time learning information that has no relevance to their job. So regulations, specific regulations that engineers just don't need to do. So we save their time doing that. And with all of that, of course, comes a cost saving. So it wasn't a cost saving exercise, but in the process of improving the quality of everything, we have actually saved a load of time and a load of money as well. So it's been a win-win.

What has been the feedback?

The feedback's been phenomenal both internally and externally. Externally, the courses have been accredited by organisations like RoSPA, which is fantastic, but also we've managed to get some awards from organisations that aren't health and safety focused. We won, last year, two Brandon Hall Group Awards for learning and development, for the use of technology and compliance training, which is great. To get recognition from outside of the industry, I think, is extra special. Internally, we surveyed all of our employees. We had over 300 responses, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. They really appreciated the targeted approach and the specific nature of the training.

How does the training cater for different learning styles?

So the approach we've taken really caters for different learning styles. The training can be accessed from a whole variety of different devices as well, from phones and laptops. So if you learn better in the morning, you can do the training in the morning. If you learn better after the kids have gone to bed, you've got the freedom to learn that way. So really providing as much variety as possible.

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